Insomnia and Suspense!

I had hoped that listening to episodes of the great old time radio program, Suspense, would divest me of my insomnia. But the unexpected glimpse into how people talked (or were presented as talking) during the 1940s has set my four curious lobes into a furious tizzy. I am now taken with “ankling” as a verb (who uses that these days?), one of many vernacular gems uttered by the private eye in “Beware the Quiet Man” (airdate: August 12, 1948). Why did three of the four episodes that aired in August 1948 feature a bank teller as a prominent character? “Crisis,” hitting the airwaves on August 19, 1948, should not work as well as it does. Yes, the silly flashback ending completely obliterates the enjoyably melodramatic 25 minutes that preceded it. But Kurt — a more genteel version of William March’s “bad seed” (to follow in fiction only six years later!) — is the kind of tremendously enjoyable creep that contemporary drama needs more of. Then there’s “Song of the Heart”, an utterly strange depiction of manipulation and muted masculinity (airdate: August 26, 1948). Van Heflin falls in love at first sight after a woman in accounting throws herself at him at a company picnic! Yes, dear, Taunta Alice must be experienced in a dark room. I’ve been steering a number of pals towards Suspense, and the damn program (combined with a few unusual personal adventures) has caused my brain to spill out pages of radio script. And I remain convinced that others out there might likewise have similar creative palpitations. Therefore, it would be a considerable injustice if I didn’t point you to the wondrous Web Archive and put you in (jarring clang) Suspense!

The Bat Segundo Show: Alec Foege

Alec Foege appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #246. Foege is most recently the author of Right of the Dial.

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Defying the maker of rules and dealing with fools.

Author: Alec Foege

Subjects Discussed: WINZ switching to Air America because of Fahrenheit 9/11‘s success, Jesse Jackson and Keep Hope Alive, profitability vs. integrity, Clear Channel’s Republican viewpoint, conservative talk radio and profitability, Rush Limbaugh, Clear Channel executives as better money managers, the Mays family approaching radio from a profit standpoint, the apolitical realities of financial mismanagement, voice tracking as a cost-cutting measure, the public radio bailout, pre-scripted radio conversation and the lack of spontaneity, Clear Channel’s Walmart approach to radio, the decline in radio advertising courtesy of the economic downturn, Clear Channel selling off stations in 2008 to survive, the self-correcting market impulse, how radio caused a San Francisco Franz Ferdinand concert with only a few hundred people showed up, Girl Talk and the Internet as an alternative marketing device, the few slots on radio playlists, Gnarls Barkley and Internet-based rock stars, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, and the “pay what you what” mentality, satellite radio, the online advantages of local radio, payola, record labels paying radio stations, free market opportunities opened up by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Howard Stern on David Letterman, Clear Channel buying Inside Radio and thus buying criticism, the FCC, and the future of radio.

EXCERPT FROM SHOW:

Correspondent: I wanted to ask you about the subject of payola, which comes up multiple times in this book. Eliot Spitzer is, of course, unfortunately now out of the game. But he did do some good things, such as investigating the relationship between the promoters and the radio conglomerates. One of the most condemning documents revealing Clear Channel’s “pay for play” policy was when an email from Sony’s Epic label basically asked, “What do I have to do to get Audioslave on WKSS this week? Whatever you can dream up, I can make it happen.” Now there was extraordinary payola in all these instances. Sometimes as much as $400,000. But if you are a promoter, you are always going to have to deal with payola on some level. Whether it’s a fruit basket. Whether it’s a free CD. I mean, what is the maximum level of what we might call payola? Inarguably, I bought you this coffee that you’re enjoying right now. So are you perhaps — is this payola? I don’t know.

Foege: Well, it’s good that you just disclosed it.

Correspondent: Yes!

Foege: That’s a step in the right direction. And I guess I didn’t explicitly state that I wouldn’t talk with you if you didn’t buy me a cup of coffee. And I did offer to pay for the cup of coffee as well. You know, the funny thing about payola is that it’s existed since the beginning of radio. I mean, radio has traditionally been a pretty dirty business. It was before Clear Channel existed. It continues to be. A lot of people in the business that I spoke to said payola always exists in some form. Every once in a while, it emerges into the public sphere. And somebody like Eliot Spitzer comes along and tries to have some effect on it. But for whatever reason, people trend back to their bad habits again. And the corruption begins again. The interesting thing about payola is that I think, particularly in the modern era, it’s had a very insidious effect on radio. Because one could argue that it’s not good for radio stations and radio companies. Sure, there are payments involved. But as Clear Channel was wont to argue, when it was sort of caught up in all this, even with the large sums that you mentioned, if you look at the total revenue that Clear Channel now brings in, those are hardly numbers that would matter to them overall.

But the insidiousness comes in the fact that, first of all, ostensibly radio stations are attracting listeners with songs and music that they want to hear. Of course, payola tips that scale and simply has people at record labels paying to get particular artists and songs on the air, whether people want to hear them or not. Or whether there’s any criteria other than the payment to get them on. So arguably, you could say that radio stations can lose listeners if they’re embroiled in payola. And it’s just crappy music that nobody likes. Which certainly has come up in the past.

The other thing is, obviously, payola hurts artists. And in combination with all the other tactics that Clear Channel employed, as it got larger, to cut costs and to streamline their overall operation, payola was yet another part of the equation that essentially cut out most emerging artists. Because how could they compete against songs that were simply on the air because people were getting paid off.

The only interesting thing about this is that payola is a very difficult crime to explain to the average person. Because, of course, some variations on what payola is exist in different kinds of venues. A classic example is when you walk into a supermarket, and you see a big pile of Rice Krispies up at the front of the row.

Correspondent: Yeah. Co-op.

Foege: Few people realize that Kellogg’s paid to have that stack put there. And that also happens to not be illegal. The reason that it’s illegal when it comes to radio is because radio, through the FCC, has a federal mandate. The airwaves are owned by the public. So this is a corruption of the public’s airwaves when these payments are made. And so that’s where the crime is involved. Because there’s an acknowledgment there that mass media, because of its power and influence, is different from boxes of Rice Krispies at the supermarket.

BSS #246: Alec Foege (Download MP3)

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Play

Podcasting to Outperform Radio?

Some new figures released by the Radio Advertising Bureau suggest that radio is now facing problems. At both the local and national levels, radio revenue has dropped over the past year. Off-air revenue growth, meaning advertising that comes with podcasts and digital downloads, has surpassed the RAB’s expectations. It is expected to reach $2 billion by the end of 2008, almost a full year ahead of the RAB’s projected timeline.

I don’t know if these trends will result in radio people calling podcasters maggots or claiming them to be trapped within a basement in Terre Haute. But the upshot is that podcasting isn’t going away anytime soon.

The State of American Literacy As Represented by Talk Show Hosts

From The Leonard Lopate Show, September 22, 2004, at the 14:04 mark on the RealAudio file, from a conversation with Terry Gross:

LOPATE: The question that people ask me the most is, “Do you read all of those books?” And I don’t know what to say. I do get help. And I usually say, “I get help.” But they don’t want to hear that. They want to believe that all I do, day and night, even on the air, is read books for tomorrow’s show.

GROSS: Well, what I say is that I read all the books. But I put — use my fingers to put quotation marks around the word “read.” ‘Cause what I do when I read the book is probably a closer approximation to skimming. ‘Cause I’m reading really fast and then slowing down for parts that I think will be relevant to the interview. And then taking notes on what I read.

LOPATE: Have you discovered that it’s ruined your personal reading? It’s hard for me to read a novel today or anything else just for pleasure. Because questions are always from it. I want to ask, “Well, Mr. Dostoevsky, why did you have Raskolnikov do that in Chapter 6?”

GROSS: That’s a really good question. You know, often, on vacations, I read — I intentionally read — a dead author. So that I’m not doing what you just said. So that I’m off the hook. So I can just read it. But this summer was one of the first vacations in a long time I did not read a whole novel. I read part of a novel. And then I found myself reading newspapers. It’s so hard not to read the newspaper right now. The newspaper itself is so interesting. And I feel like I can’t go a day without reading the newspaper. There are magazines that I wanted to catch up on. And I had to — I had to not read. I went to see one or two movies, or a movie and a concert, every day that I was on vacation. And I really felt I needed to spend a little bit of time not reading. Because I read so much.

LOPATE: When you’re putting together the questions you’re to ask, do you ever rely on those press kits? Their favorite question, which is, “Why did you write this book?”

GROSS: The part that I usually — I usually read the press releases because it’s a nice kind of frame before you start the book. When you’re reading at my pace, it’s nice to have a kind of brief overview of the book. So I’ll read reviews also. But I will intentionally not read the questions that the publisher gives. Because some of those questions are going to be good. Some of those questions are going to be questions that I would have asked anyways. But if I see those questions, it will make me think, “Well, I can’t ask that question.” Because that question has been put before me by a publicist and I’ll feel like I’m asking it because they told me to. So I feel like I can’t afford to look at it. So I’ll just, you know, do you know what I mean?

LOPATE: I know perfectly well. It’s almost a perversity, their pride that I have to do it all by myself. If I don’t want to rely on the publicity machine to tell me what to do —

GROSS: Well, you want to expect that your questions are independent of that. And yet a lot of the publicists are really smart. And they’re coming out with really good questions. So…

LOPATE: Well, they try to intrigue you into having the guest.

GROSS: Yes. So my technique is don’t read it.

This American Reality

Ben Tanzer: “But how does one get a piece on the show? Or even meet Ira Glass who I understand rests in a cryogenically sealed chamber between shows? I imagine one could lurk outside the studio or Ira’s home, though again please note that I am not a stalker, and that the charges to that effect filed by NPR’s legal office here in Chicago did not stick. One could also submit their work, which I have done, but how well does one’s actual work reflect their wit, timing, and ability to move the public to tears, joy, and maybe even arousal in the space of one sentence? Not well my friend, not my work anyway.” (via Pete Anderson)

Amateur Hour at Studio 360

Kurt Andersen has offered the uncut version of his conversation with Harlan Ellison. But what is particularly astonishing is just how much of an ignoramus Andersen comes across as. He constantly interrupts Ellison. At around the 26:30 mark, Andersen cannot get Dreams with Sharp Teeth director Erik Nelson’s name right and must utter the intro again. An embarrassing suggestion that Ellison wrote “Paladin of the Lost Hour” for the original Twilight Zone is there. In short, Studio 360 is a program that is made almost entirely in the editing room and certainly not from the conversation itself. And if this uncut interview serves as a representative rough version of what the editors have to play with, then I wonder just how much Andersen is relying on his editors to salvage the show and make it sound “professional.”

For the record, while there is some editing on The Bat Segundo Show (mostly to boost levels, remove coughs and popped plosives, make people sound a bit sexier, and the like), what you hear on these shows is 98% of the conversation. If I make a referential mistake, I leave it in. If there’s a strange tangent, I leave it in. If a guest and I get kicked out or something strange happens because of a third party, I leave it in. But I compensate for these fallacies by actually knowing the material: reading the book in full, wading through other interviews to ensure that I don’t ask the same questions, making sure I pronounce the author’s name, the book’s title, and the book’s characters correctly (although there have been a few minor slip-ups; nobody’s perfect). I’m determined to get as much of this right in my conversation because it means less editing time for me. And I only have so much time to commit. Perhaps this “one take” sensibility comes from my theatrical background. But apparently Andersen (or his writers) cannot do this.

Just think of all the man-hours that have been expended towards correct Andersen’s mistakes. Consider the labor costs that might have been avoided had Andersen actually bothered to pay attention to his goddam subject.

But what do I know? I’m just some hapless podcaster.

(Incidentally, at the 30 minute mark, it’s also quite funny to hear Harlan Ellison skewer Andersen’s stereotypical remarks about Los Angeles.)

Coming Soon to The Bat Segundo Show

You may know Peter Fernandez and Corinne Orr from their voiceover acting for Speed Racer. In addition to writing and directing the American scripts, Fernandez was the voice of Speed Racer and Racer X. Orr was the voice of Trixie and Spritle. But what you may not realize is that both of these actors began their careers just as old time radio was on the decline. (Indeed, Orr even appeared on an episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater, Himan Brown’s effort in the 1970s to bring back old time radio.) Since one of my side projects has involved attempting to revive old time radio for the podcasting age, I am greatly interested in this generation of great voiceover actors. I’m also a fan of Speed Racer. Fernandez and Orr — both of whom are especially friendly people — kindly took some time out to talk with me while I was bumping around The New York Anime Festival. There were many topics discussed during our conversation. (After many curious years, I finally learned the story behind the third season Star Blazers casting switchover, which will be revealed once the podcast goes up.) But as it turned out, we got to the subject of old time radio pretty quickly.

Correspondent: Was there a stigma in terms of female actors doing boys at the time?

Orr: No. Everybody did it. (laughs) Not everybody, but it was common because we were coming out of the radio era.

Correspondent: Yeah.

orrweb2.jpgOrr: And people had doubled and tripled in shows. So…

Fernandez: Well, on radio though — and I grew up partly doing the radio shows from the East Coast, which was where most of the dramatic shows came from. And they used real kids. There was one boy named Ronald Liss, who started doing radio when he was a year and a half. He could read.

Orr: Really?

Correspondent: Wow.

Fernandez: Yeah. Quite a bit. He went to the same school I did and they skipped him three grades.

Orr: I knew him. I loved him.

Correspondent: I’ve listened to a lot of old time radio and I actually have heard children. So that’s definitely true.

Fernandez: Yes.

Correspondent: Actually, this brings up a question I wanted to ask both of you, in terms of animation and anime reflecting this old time radio feel. Rather, there’s a whole generation that grew up who didn’t listen to old time radio. I only discovered it just by complete curiosity. And I’m wondering if you feel, both as actors, that there has been something lost in the last forty years.

Fernandez: I want to address that. My favorite medium of all time is radio, and it always will be. You’ve heard the cliche “theater of the mind.” And it’s absolutely true. Every listener had a different picture of what he was listening to in his head. And it was a marvelous medium. And great for actors. It was live!

Orr: We do a convention each year called Friends of Old Time Radio in New Jersey. And it’s glorious. They recreate all the old shows with some of the original actors who are still alive, and they use other people to do the shows. And it’s great fun! We do it each year. And I just won an award last year.

Correspondent: Oh! Congratulations.

Orr: Thank you.

Correspondent: Well, we’re talking about radio as “It was a fabulous medium.” Do you think there’s absolutely no hope — particularly in this podcasting era; I mean, here we are talking on a podcast — of old time radio returning?

Fernandez: I don’t think it can ever return. Because now it’s a commercial every three minutes on whatever you’re watching or listening to. Three or four minutes. However, I was thinking of maybe devising three minute segments of soap operas — you know, original ones. Not going back to the old ones. And having a little brief drama or comedy. Whatever. Lasting only for the three minutes. What stations would run it, I don’t know. Because you need X amount of stations to pay for it.

fernandezweb2.jpgCorrespondent: But what I’m suggesting is, is that here we have this podcasting medium in which this isn’t a factor. In which you can have a sponsor sponsor an entire podcast. So I’m wondering if there’s any hope of old time radio that’s lengthy thirty-minute drama.

Fernandez: I don’t think there’s an audience for it.

Correspondent: Really.

Fernandez: Yeah, if they want to spend a half hour, they want to see it on television or whatever.

Correspondent: Even if they’re walking in the streets with their iPods? Have you considered that? I mean, people do need to listen to something on the subway.

Fernandez: Well, “listen,” there’s the key. To listen. Is it enough to just listen? Do you want to listen to a book being read or — I don’t know. I just don’t think that people are used to it mentally now.

This Week’s Edition of Throwing Money at the Problem Isn’t Necessarily the Answer

Alex Beam opines that the $225 million Joan Kroc gift has done little for NPR: “Here is the problem. What was once an insurgent radio movement now sounds like Chet Huntley reading the evening news. Call it NPR Classic. But NPR management won’t put the old warhorses like Cokie and Linda out to pasture for fear of alienating the loyal listeners who answer the bell during pledge drives.”

Star & Buc Wild: One Year Later, No Consequences

Return of the Reluctant regulars may remember last year’s Star & Buc Wild episode, in which two DJs verbally berated an Indian call center employee with sexist and racist language. As of this writing, Star & Buc Wild are still employed at Power 99 and Power 105.1.

One year later, Kai Yu sends word that the Coalition Against Hate Media has formed to protest the racist programming of Emmis Communications. The CAHM website is still up and there are no protest events planned. But perhaps they’ll get their act together and do something constructive, such as jam phone banks, fax machines, mailboxes and the email of Jeaneane Brennan, the ClearChannel contact for the New York cluster.

Ms. Brennan’s contact info is listed here. Protest away!

Jeaneane Brennan
EEO Manager for NY Cluster
Clear Channel Radio 525 Washington Blvd.
16th Floor Jersey City, NJ 07310
Phone: (201) 420-3703 Fax: (201) 420-3847
Email: JeaneaneBrennan@clearchannel.com

John Banville Radio Play

As widely reported, John Banville’s radio play, “Todtnauberg,” can be listened to at the BBC site. Banville proved to be more skillful a radio dramatist than I expected.

And as an aside, I have to wonder why American radio (read: NPR) doesn’t offer these sorts of extended opportunities for authors outside of This American Life. Wouldn’t it be great to see Eric Kraft offer a radio adaptation of one of his Peter Leroy novels or any of the Escapist comics rendered into radio plays?

FCC Responds to Star Complaint

Econ Junkie has posted the response he received from the FCC. As I have tried to point out, unless Star & Buc Wild are sexually explicit (see 182 U.S. Code Section 1461), the First Amendment permits them to broadcast whatever they want, provided they fall within broadcast requirements. Your efforts are best directed towards the radio station, Clear Channel, and the advertisers. The advertisers may consider withdrawing their commercials if they are informed of the content they are supporting. Particularly if you write thoughtful (not abusive or inflammatory, but thoughtful!) and well-reasoned letters demonstrating that they essentially support a pair of DJs who insensitively play plane crash sounds and abuse call center employees for laughs. Now it’s just up to someone in New York to start listening to 105.1 FM beginning on January 17 and begin compiling a list of advertisers.

Star & Buc Wild Suspended

It’s a small achivement that doesn’t mean as much in light of the move to New York. But it’s an achievement nonetheless. The outcry has resulted in Star & Buc Wild being suspended for a day. Thanks in part to your efforts, Power 99 FM received more email and phone calls in the entire station’s history.

But this is only the beginning of the fight. Since the two DJs have been repeatedly hateful and since the one day suspension amounts to a consolation prize (Star & Buc Wild were moving out of Philly anyway), the DJs will quite possibly settle into the new routine at 105.1 FM in New York. If there are any able listeners in New York willing to keep track of advertisers, now would be the time to mobilize for a future campaign. Because in light of their history of abusive radio, these two will try again.

[UPDATE: Again, because the racism and the hatred in the comments are too prevalent, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to moderate, I have closed the thread. I have tried to remove some of the more racist messages and have banned the IP addresses of those who would use this site to preach hatred. Some of you folks should be ashamed of yourselves.]

RIP Mr. Monitor

Our monitor is at death’s door, we won’t be able to replace it for a few days, and we’re overwhelmed by the stunning response regarding the Star & Buc Wild post. Factor in the other things we’re doing, and this has resulted in an uphill battle in email responses and regular bloggin. But for now, here are some highlights from the literary world:

  • As noted widely elsewhere (and kept under wraps with great glee here), many congratulations to Laila.
  • Birnbaum interviews T.C. Boyle. It starts off with the question, “Do people call you Tom?” We have to confess that we’ve been asked that question a few times ourselves, albeit in entirely different circumstances.
  • On the Star & Buc Wild front, thanks to the efforts of Devalina Guha-Roy, WUSL-FM‘s reaction has made the Philly Inquirer. There have been more than 130 e-mails and phone calls. Of course, the problem isn’t the broadcast or Star’s antics, but the “insensitive” employee who posted the clip online. Clearly, WUSL hasn’t gone nearly far enough to ensuring that “racially inflammatory” programming on this level won’t occur again. What’s particularly interesting is that Star & Buc Wild’s move to WWPR has elicited more publicity. It seems that in the wake of Star’s disgraceful banter, his publicist decided to issue a press release.
  • John Intini suggests that this generation has become too “resourceful” and suggests that readers of Arts & Letters Daily, McSweeney’s and bloggers in general are as bad as Trivial Pursuit junkies. We think he’s onto something, but we’re wondering what’s wrong with having a capacious storehold upstairs? Granted, when such brainpower is reduced to remembering Usher lyrics, it’s a considerable problem. But we can think of far worse things to remember and recite than, say, a passage from a Jonathan Lethem novel.
  • Lip Service is a UK-based theatrical and radio group who transmogrify literary classics. They sound like a lot of fun.
  • Is Patrick White Australia’s most unreadable novelist?

Star & Buc Wild: Racist on the Radio

Moorish Girl posts to this item from Turbanhead. Apparently, the wakeup crew at Philadelphia’s Power 99 radio think that it’s absolutely hilarious to call a customer service line outsourced to India and berate an employee with sexist and racist banter.

The MP3 has been removed from the Power 99 site, but, in the event that Turbanhead‘s servers get overloaded on this, I’ve mirrored the file here and I urge anyone who cares to host the file too. For those who can’t play audio at work, here’s a transcript:

NARRATOR INTRO: Wakeup with Star and Buc Wild in the mornings of Power 99 FM.

STAR: I’m going to play this call from earlier before we get out of here. This is the, uh, call that I made to — I thought it was a company here locally. Not that I was surprised.

(laughter)

STAR: I saw this infomercial about, uh, what are these things called again? Oh, the, uh…

FEMALE VOICE: Bead? Oh shoot.

STAR: Anyway, let — let’s just play the call. I was surprised when I got somebody on the line in East India. These little beads that I saw. Little white kids, uh, a little machine that puts them in their hair.

FEMALE VOICE: Mm’hm.

STAR: Play it.

(tape begins)

STEENA: This is Steena. How may I help you?

STAR: Hi, Stain-a, you say?

STEENA: Yes.

STAR: (in fake Indian accent) Yeah, I called and I just got hung up on. I’m calling from America about the quick beads for my daughter’s, uh, hair. Quick beads.

STEEA: Okay. May I have your ZIP code please?

STAR: 10274.

STEENA: 10274?

STAR: Yes. Get it right. Now are you in India? Because I just spoke to someone in India who hung up on me.

STEENA: Thank you. I am from India, ma’am.

STAR: Okay. So my call is being outsourced to India.

STEENA: That’s right.

STAR: In… in regards to my six year old, white American daughter who wants to get the quick beads like Serena and Venus Williams.

STEENA: Now. I’ll definitely place an order for that. See…

STAR: What’s that?

STEENA: …in the ad, she called to place a quick bead of counier. To ensure proper handling…

STAR: Ma’am, I don’t know what the hell you’re saying. Hang on a second. Let me try and get something straight here. The quick beads, like Venus and Serena Williams, that to advertise to — to the white kids on television. This call has been outsourced to India?

STEENA: That’s right.

STAR: Well, ma’am, what the eff would you know about an American white girl’s — uh, uh — hair? And quick beads.

STEENA: Just to inform you, ma’am, we’re a national chain services company. And we’re just taking calls on the opposite…

STAR: Listen, bitch! Don’t get slick with the mouth! Don’t you get slick with me, bitch!

STEENA: Now if you continue to speak this language, I will disconnect the call.

STAR: Listen to me, you dirty rat eater. I’ll come out there and choke the eff out of you.

(laughter)

STAR: You’re a filthy rat eater. I’m calling about my American six year old white girl. How dare you outsource my call? Get off the line, bitch!

(laughter; end of tape)

STAR: Pull it up.

(laughter)

STAR: Heard they listen well out there.

* * *

The call letters of Power 99 are WUSL. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that the station is owned by Clear Channel. In light of the station’s Stop the Violence and Increase the Peace campaign, it might be worth addressing this verbal violence to the WUSL manager and to Clear Channel Corporate. Letters written on actual paper or faxes are the best way to deal with this. Emails can be overlooked, but paper is a physical presence. You can find addresses and fax numbers right here:

Power99 WUSL-FM
440 Domino Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19128
General Business Line: 215-483-8900
Fax: 215-483-5930
Director of Urban Programming/Program Director: Thea Mitchem
Operations Manager: Todd Shannon
General Manager: Dave Allan

Clear Channel Communications
200 Basse Road
San Antonio, TX 78209
Phone: 210-822-2828

Ron has pointed out that DJs Star and Buc Wild have been added to WWPR-FM (Power 105.1) in New York (also a Clear Channel radio station). Clear Channel has apparently invested $17 million to sign Star and Buc Wild to the morning lineup. In addition to WUSL, Star can currently be found on Hartford’s WPHH station.

Star apparently has a history of savage radio behavior. In fact, he prides himself on being “the Hater” and his website notes that “he has the audacity to be unconstrained by neo-conservative intellectual influence.” The exclusive Star interview further notes, “Hate is one of the truest natures of mankind. We’ll always have Hate, even when we branch into outer space and set up new civilizations. To eradicate hate would mean becoming desensitized or emotionless” and then qualifies this statement with a followup, “Does a fat bitch love cheeseburgers? Absolutely.”

When he worked at WQHT, he played plane-crash sound effects when Aaliyah died, complete with a woman screaming, causing his former co-host Miss Jones to walk out. Star has promised to “bury his old station” when he gets to New York (the first show is set for January 17, 2005.

Of course, listeners aren’t really the people who matter in corporate radio. Advertisers do. It might be fruitful for watchdogs in Philadelphia and New York to keep a list of loca and national advertisers that air commercials during Star’s broadcasts on Hartford’s WPHH and Philadelphia’s WUSL. And when Star moves to New York on January 17, maintain the list of advertisers on WWPR.

If we hope to win the war against hate radio, then the time has come to mobilize with diligence and action. And that means paying attention to who pays the bill.

(UPDATE: It’s also worth noting that Star’s real name is Troi Torain. He’s also made anti-Semitic comments. Funny how he’s sensitive when J-Lo uses similar language. Apparently, Torain’s former New York employer Emmis has been trying to block his WWPR gig. Torain was suspended after the Aaliyah incident. The clause in his Emmis contract has kept him off New York radio until this year. That didn’t stop him from ripping about 20 award plagues from WQHT and storming off the office. And there’s more, even a book deal.]

[FURTHER UPDATE: The outcry has resulted in Star & Buc Wild being suspended for a day. Thanks in part to your efforts, Power 99 FM received more email and phone calls in the entire station’s history.

But this is only the beginning of the fight. Since the two DJs have been repeatedly hateful and since the one day suspension amounts to a consolation prize (Star & Buc Wild were moving out of Philly anyway), the DJs will quite possibly settle into the new routine at 105.1 FM in New York. If there are any able listeners in New York willing to keep track of advertisers, now would be the time to mobilize for a future campaign. Because in light of their history of abusive radio, these two will try again. ]

[THIRD UPDATE: Because of the abusive comments (despite my repeated requests), I have closed the comments. I’m appalled by the behavior from some people here. Hate is not the way to respond with hate. I can understand anger, but by drawing generalizations about Africans or Americans, you are giving into the same spiteful tone voiced by Star. And I don’t enjoy my mailbox being pummeled with hatred.]

Quickies

The Guardian has an excerpt of Carol Shield’s unfinished novel, Segue, which she was working on at the time of her death.

Terry Gross interviews Stephen King. Hearing Terry Gross describe the beginning of Gerald’s Game in such clinical intellectual terms (apparently, without irony) is pretty hilarious, as are the additional queries that jump from third-person to first-person (“Let’s get Stephen King to the kind of gore and terror and suspense that you create.”). But the second interview has King talking about his accident.

The Globe and Mail features a New Year’s-themed article on the description of drinking in literature that’s also unintentioanlly funny. Really, I couldn’t make this stuff up: “You can, with a little licence, trace an arc in 20th-century drinking literature that follows the act of drinking itself. In Hemingway’s work, the drinking was never-ending, and often celebratory when it wasn’t the weary duty of the lost generation. Hangovers were left largely undescribed, something that could be walked off in the clear air of the Pyrenees, or washed off in a fine and true Michigan trout stream.”

More fun from J.M. Coetzee in the latest NYRoB.

Speculation in the Age on 2004’s Australian heavy-hitters.

Tony Kushner gushes over Eugene O’Neill.

Biggest surprise: USA Today names both Living History and The Five People You Meet in Heaven as worst books of 2003.

Stavros has a translation of the Lost in Translation commercial scene that reveals (no surprise) remarkable caricatures.

And about 70 books on Mao were published in China this year. Perhaps because the 110th anniversary of Mao’s birth was yesterday.